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The Pit and the Pendulum

One of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous stories, The Pit and the Pendulum, a work of horror that achieves its effect through a description of the unnamed narrator’s experiences and internal feelings, was for its time remarkably innovative in its focus on sensations. At the beginning of the story, the narrator is explaining his reaction as he's sentenced to death by the inquisitors. Until that moment, it seemed impossible to think that something would not save him from this terrible fate, but then 'the figures of the judges vanished as if magically, from before me; the tall candles sank into nothingness. Their flames went out utterly; the blackness of darkness supervened; all sensations appeared swallowed up in a mad rushing descent as of the soul into Hades.' The shock takes over and the narrator remembers little of what happens next. While he doesn't completely lose consciousness, the break in the mental capacity that follows makes it difficult for the narrator to recall the events that led him to the dungeon in Toledo. The protagonist’s dread is shared by the audience, for both are ignorant of the character’s environment and his ultimate fate. Therefore, suspense is maintained, for the reader and the narrator discovers each detail simultaneously. As each new fact is revealed, there is a temporary feeling of relief, which is destroyed as new, more awful terrors become known. You can listen online to free English audiobook “The Pit and the Pendulum” by Edgar Allan Poe on our website.

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